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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #101  
Old 08-17-2012, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bagodonuts68 View Post
was the rebuild free? S$%* No! if i recall it was $75 per strut plus shipping (plus install labor, alignment, etc). It has been a real pain in the arse for a lot of people. I would love to get the bottom line answer to the problem from Bilstein. The clunk problem is a serious quality problem that should not be happening on ANY vehicle.
I am not paying Bilstein anything...as I have my reciept from the purchase.
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  #102  
Old 09-04-2012, 09:02 AM
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Update

Struts are coming out shortly and will be sent to Bilstein for rebuilding. I am hoping new seals and grease will eliminate the knocking noise. (Or what Bilstein says is more of a "sticking" or "stiction" issue)

I will report more info once they are back, installed and driven for a few hundred miles. Expect a follow up report in a couple weeks.
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  #103  
Old 09-07-2012, 02:41 PM
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Struts inspected by Bilstein technical department...

They were fixed and shipped out today...turn around was reasonably quick...in on Wednesday, out on Friday. I shipped them Fed Ex overnight, and they were going to return them Fed Ex 2 day (for free) I opted to have them sent overnight at my expense on my Fed Ex account.

So they inspected them, and here is what they found:

” Both front struts were inspected for acceptable slider bearing run-out (lateral movement) and discovered to be out of tolerance. The bearings were removed and replaced, housings cleaned and re-greased with new grease seals installed. The run-out was again tested following the rebuild and was in “as or better than, new condition”. "

So lateral wear was the cause of the knocking or clunking noise? Will get these installed next week and drive it for a while and report back. IF it does fix the problem...I suspect that it will return, eventually. My tech noticed some unusual wear marks on one of the strut internal shafts when he disassembled them in an attempt to grease them. So this lateral pressure or something is causing this wear, but the bearings are taking most of the abuse...but why?

I got around 18k miles before I started getting intermitted knocking noises after the original installation from new. I received warranty replacements for the fronts and those lasted about 22k before the knock returned most recently. If this rebuild fixes them, I guess I am good for another 20k or so. The rear shocks continue to work just fine.

Again, no loss of damping or performance issues, just the annoying intermittent knocking.
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  #104  
Old 01-10-2013, 11:22 AM
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Orxan4ik Orxan4ik is offline
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Did this fix the problem? I thought my winter wheel setup was touching something being tall and stuff, but thats not the case. I will be calling Bilstein immediately, in the mean time I would love to hear if the knock is gone for good! Thanks a ton for this thread, too!
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  #105  
Old 03-14-2013, 06:50 PM
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The crazy thing is I really wanted the Bilstein PSS kit mentioned on this thread until I read it. Does anyone hear not have problems with Bilsteins? I may just go back with Sachs on my car as it's a daily driver and I need to play it safe
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  #106  
Old 03-14-2013, 10:20 PM
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I have the PSS9 for almost 2 years now, without any problems. But mine is a i6, so different model.
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  #107  
Old 04-01-2013, 07:53 PM
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Just took the dive on my 540 - 6 Speed and got the Bilstein B14 PSS kit. I really enjoy the ride and I haven't even gotten an alignment yet so I know its only going to get better. I'll let you know how I make with the kit later if I have any issues.
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  #108  
Old 04-01-2013, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orxan4ik View Post
Did this fix the problem? I thought my winter wheel setup was touching something being tall and stuff, but thats not the case. I will be calling Bilstein immediately, in the mean time I would love to hear if the knock is gone for good! Thanks a ton for this thread, too!
Knocking noise is gone, but as I said, there appears to be a design problem, and I expect it to return within 20k miles, as I have had two NEW sets of front PSS coilovers develop this knocking noise. Now that these are rebuilt with new bearings, (original oem parts) I have no other expectation other than they will wear and develop the knocking noise all over again....
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  #109  
Old 04-02-2013, 04:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
Knocking noise is gone, but as I said, there appears to be a design problem, and I expect it to return within 20k miles, as I have had two NEW sets of front PSS coilovers develop this knocking noise. Now that these are rebuilt with new bearings, (original oem parts) I have no other expectation other than they will wear and develop the knocking noise all over again....
That's AMAZING! In a BAD WAY! Reputations are lost way faster than they are built. Bilstein has had a sterling reputation for durability & performance since the days of the e21. Even though these appear to be somewhat isolated cases, there is some repetition. This is going to butcher that reputation for durability amongst the serious enthusiast crowd. For the DIYer, this is just a PITA to replace. But for the person that sends it out for replacement, the additional labor cost (removal + installation) is going to make choosing Bilstein prohibitive, in the future. I would think they would FIX this design issue immediately rather than risking additional bad press. Just amazing. Sacrificing future revenues for the near term bottom line. What are they thinking?
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  #110  
Old 04-25-2013, 12:41 PM
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Knocking noise/problem has returned!

Only a little over 8,000 miles since rebuilding my front B14 PSS struts and they are knocking again. Consulting with Bilstein on this, but not sure I want to bother having them fix or replace them, only to have to do this again in a few thousand more miles....damn this has been an expensive and unpleasant experience....
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  #111  
Old 04-25-2013, 12:54 PM
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Wow, was seriously considering this kit. I was even considering buying regular Bilstien HDs as an OEM replacement with aftermarket springs. Have heard bad things about both now.

540 m sport: I hope that everything gets sorted out for good, but I thank you for documenting your entire experience with this kit. Very helpful.
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  #112  
Old 04-25-2013, 05:14 PM
Fir3n5m0ke Fir3n5m0ke is offline
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I've been seriously considering getting this kit as well seeing as I can get it $1,000 even at EACtuning.com. I feel very dissuaded from getting the kit given your experience on this thread but how sure can we be that it is still the struts after the most recent manufacturing and not the toll it has taken on your car already?

If it is indeed the same problem reoccurring, someone needs to link this thread to Bilstein to show how their reputation is deteriorating. Glad I came across this.
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  #113  
Old 04-25-2013, 07:03 PM
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Having the same knocking issue with both my front non-sport HDs installed 3 years/40,000 miles ago. Contacted Lisa at Bilstein warranty dept and received new struts today. The whole process was so painless I could hardly believe it. 3 or 4 emails and one phone call (she answered the phone on the first ring) to give her the cc number and they were at my door in 3 days. Now I have to install, send back the old ones and hope they test as being bad so I can get a refund. Major props to Lisa - best customer service I've experienced in a very long time.
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  #114  
Old 04-25-2013, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by occhis View Post
Having the same knocking issue with both my front non-sport HDs installed 3 years/40,000 miles ago. Contacted Lisa at Bilstein warranty dept and received new struts today. The whole process was so painless I could hardly believe it. 3 or 4 emails and one phone call (she answered the phone on the first ring) to give her the cc number and they were at my door in 3 days. Now I have to install, send back the old ones and hope they test as being bad so I can get a refund. Major props to Lisa - best customer service I've experienced in a very long time.
PLEASE, be sure to follow up with Lisa and have them test your old units and determine the failure point. I am curious if it is the same "slider bearing run out" (like I had) that is causing the lateral movement within the strut, which causes the knocking noise. Or, could your struts have a different problem??
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  #115  
Old 04-25-2013, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Fir3n5m0ke View Post
I've been seriously considering getting this kit as well seeing as I can get it $1,000 even at EACtuning.com. I feel very dissuaded from getting the kit given your experience on this thread but how sure can we be that it is still the struts after the most recent manufacturing and not the toll it has taken on your car already?.
Here is why: Because I have had the exact same problem recur THREE times. The first time I replaced just about every suspension component (steering center link, left and right ,plus upper and lower control arms, and sway bar end links (using all oem Lemforder and TRW parts) as well as going ahead and replacing the upper strut mounts (again, as new upper strut mounts were used during the original installation). All work performed by local race shop with tons of BMW and suspension experience. No cure, so Bilstein sent me new front B14 PSS struts, and low and behold, the problem went away, for 22k miles. Then recurred. So, replaced upper strut mounts, and went through entire front suspension, all checked out good, so this time Bilstein rebuilt the front struts, AND found excessive wear on the slider bearings (so we know that was the cause of the noise). New bearings, new seals and regreased. Once installed, guess what? No more knocking noise. BUT, 8k miles later, the knocking has returned. While I have not had a full inspection performed yet, the EXACT same sounds and symptoms are present, so I am not really going to spend another couple hundred dollars in tech time to dick around with it.

I have spent way more money and time with this and it has really been frustrating. Even the shop I work with is baffled, as they see very few problems with Bilstein products. All I can surmise is there is a design flaw in the E39 front struts they make. The rears work perfectly, no issues...and obviously, Bilstein has a stellar reputation in general. I have no other explanation.
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Last edited by 540 M-Sport; 04-25-2013 at 09:52 PM.
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  #116  
Old 04-26-2013, 06:07 AM
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Well it appears I am also effected by this flaw. After re-doing my entire front and rear suspension about 3 years ago with Lemfoeder and Bilstein HD's all around including new bearings all around. The car developed a clunking sound primarily in the front drivers side area about a 8 months after installing everything. This started about 2 years ago and has gotten progressively worse over time. The additional sound that has perplexed me and many technicians is a rotational hum when driving. Seems to go with car speed, is not tranny related, and does not appear to be a worn bearing sound. I decided to replace my rotors and pads after 1 year even though they were replaced during my overhaul, but the sounds remained. I Feel the clunk on the entire front end when going over bumps slowly, but the car handles just fine. I have looked at, and had technicians look at it several times, and each diagnosis was that everything is tight. Control arms that were replaced are fine, thrust arms, sway bar links etc. the only thing I did not replace were the OEM non sport springs, but did replace the spring pads. I have been taking my time because I want to replace the right parts being it was all done already. After almost 2 years of looking into this, I have concluded that it has to be the Bilstein HD struts. I know these struts are stiff, but their is absolutely no dampening on the front end when pushing down on the hood, as my technician also just confirmed this. The sound cannot be replicated when pushing down on the hood, but it seems to happen when the tires go over a bump, then briefly loses contact with road, and then makes contact again...clunk every time.

I will be replacing everything with sachs OEm struts and shocks, then file a claim with Bilstein. Will report back.....
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Last edited by paferri; 04-26-2013 at 06:22 AM.
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  #117  
Old 04-26-2013, 10:51 AM
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Bilstein will ship you a new set of fronts on your CC, then credit you back upon return of the old ones, if deemed defective. Obviously there is some risk here, but a couple of us have done this and the indeed found fault and credited us back.
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  #118  
Old 04-26-2013, 12:08 PM
Fir3n5m0ke Fir3n5m0ke is offline
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For anyone interested in purchasing the Bilstein B14 PSS kit, EACeuroparts.com has them the cheapest for the searches I performed at $1,000 even. The were listed as out of stock but after emailing EAC they confirmed that they were indeed still carrying the part. The price for Bilsteins and H+Rs was comparable so I was decided to opt for the coilover setup. If anyone has purchased this anytime recently please post your experiences. Seeing as this is my daily driver, and likely will be for the next few years, I do not want a knocking suspension 20k miles after install.
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  #119  
Old 04-27-2013, 06:39 AM
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Thanks for the heads up 540, but in my experience with the Bilstein HD's in 3 years time are that they are way too stiff for every day driving.

What swayed my final decision in picking Bilsteins over OEM at the time was the lifetime warranty, and the alleged durability of these struts and shocks.

Driving back and forth to work each day, and doing 80 miles for the round trip here on Long Island NY, the roads are less than forgiving for such a setup. Each bump, pothole etc is felt throughout the car and travels up your spine. You almost cringe in the car taking so much abuse when it does, as if you are driving without any dampening at all. In my opinion, the Bilsteins may be well suited if you are driving on the autobahn each day, or a race track, but that is about it.

I don't think I will be satisfied with just replacing the fronts and having the issue return in a year or less. Their is an obvious issue with the design or make whether it's the metal they are now using or something else, as I hear the same complaints from many. Bilstein may have had a reputable reputation at one time, but something has surely gone south. To add, I just don't see how any strut/shock that is designed this stiff not having an issue over time with every day driving and taking the abuse it does......my 2 cents

Hopefully I can get credit for the fronts at the very least if they are deemed faulty, not sure if their is anything wrong with the rears, but I may have to bite the bullet here as I have made my decision in removing it all and going back to OEM. Nothing I hate more than re-doing something that was recently done on the car when you are choosing alleged quality parts and want to move on to the next project that needs attention. It has happened with a few items on this car, and this is just the latest, but overall, I still love the car and it is rock solid for its age.
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Last edited by paferri; 04-27-2013 at 06:56 AM.
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  #120  
Old 04-27-2013, 04:22 PM
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540 M-Sport 540 M-Sport is offline
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Maybe you could exchange for their Touring shock/struts which are supposed to be closer to oem, and not of the inverted design, which may be less prone this wear, since I imagine it would not have the same "slider bearing" design of an inverted strut?
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  #121  
Old 06-16-2013, 12:55 AM
ldawgtheg ldawgtheg is offline
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Hey 540 M-Sport,

I just got the Bilstein PSS installed on my car just today and it already made a knocking sound on the passenger side when I turn during low speeds. This is ridiculous. I am not hitting anything, fenders ect. Could this be a problem with the bearing? And the kit is ridiculously bouncy. I am hitting potholes and bumps sounding like a cannon was fired off. Then the car bounces up and down like a low-rider. I am sitting tire-tucked on my M5 but I know that's way too low. I got to raise the height. Did you ever solve this problem?
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  #122  
Old 06-16-2013, 08:48 AM
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G-Moussa G-Moussa is offline
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My exact reasons why I did not get coilovers. My friend has an E46 M3 and he has sent his strut back to California three times already to get serviced. Supposedly it is still making a clunking noise. I mean this shouldn't sway me away fully from coilovers but sounds like that clunk is notorious on Bilstein's, because the M3 has a certain clunk as well. Im glad I stayed away. Hope it works out though, Bilstein is quite the reputable brand for what they make.
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  #123  
Old 06-16-2013, 01:25 PM
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Hey 540 M-Sport,

I just got the Bilstein PSS installed on my car just today and it already made a knocking sound on the passenger side when I turn during low speeds. This is ridiculous. I am not hitting anything, fenders ect. Could this be a problem with the bearing? And the kit is ridiculously bouncy. I am hitting potholes and bumps sounding like a cannon was fired off. Then the car bounces up and down like a low-rider. I am sitting tire-tucked on my M5 but I know that's way too low. I got to raise the height. Did you ever solve this problem?
Sorry, no idea....did you replace the upper mounts when you installed? Also, were you careful to follow the diagrams for assembly of the front struts? There is a minimum height spec for how low you can go with the kit, it was in the assembly diagram. You cannot simply use all the threads on the strut body to go to the maximum allowable lowering. If you do, then there is very little travel for the shock or strut (lack of travel gives you the bouncy ride), and then it bottoms out, hitting the internal rubber bump stop, so if you go super low, you are probably bottoming out and hitting the bump stops, giving you this "cannon sound". I went about as low as the instructions will allow (leaving sufficient travel) and I still have about 2 cm of vertical fender clearance between the tire and fender at the front and 1 cm in the rear. You can probably reasonably go a bit lower than their recommendation, but not a lot, or you risk hitting the bumps stops, like you probably are now. I do not have a bouncy ride at all on the freeway. Yes, the ride is stiff, but I have grown to love it. It is not uncomfortable, I drive my 91yo father in the car, and he actually commented on how smooth the ride was, a couple weeks ago.

I seriously doubt there is anyway the kit would be responsible for the knocking sounds...that is probably either an installation issue or a worn part that is now raising its head with the new kit.

If you do not raise your car up a bit, you are probably going to damage your strut towers in your front fenders from all the stress being transmitted through (including damaging the upper strut mounts. Even when the height is correct, many aftermarket shock/strut/spring combinations will transmit a lot more stress than was originally designed for the strut towers, and can bend or deform them. This is a solution: http://www.bmpdesign.com/technical/e...wer_damage.php
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Last edited by 540 M-Sport; 06-16-2013 at 01:26 PM.
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  #124  
Old 04-30-2014, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 540 M-Sport View Post
Only a little over 8,000 miles since rebuilding my front B14 PSS struts and they are knocking again. Consulting with Bilstein on this, but not sure I want to bother having them fix or replace them, only to have to do this again in a few thousand more miles....damn this has been an expensive and unpleasant experience....
FOLLOW UP: So the knocking noise went away, shortly after my post 4/2013, then returned a couple months ago, getting progressively worse. I am unsure of exact miles, but probably around 25k or so since last rebuild. Contacted Bilstein, and they offered to rebuild one more time, this time using Porsche slider bearings, which have twice the surface area. They also regreased and replaced seals. (surprisingly, they said the struts did not show or measure any lateral play or wear, though my own technician saw similar unusual wear pattern on strut shaft, like before) Installed by my shop today, and drove over 200 miles tonight and no more knocking. Time will tell if this is a permanent repair. Many thanks to Bilstein for their help and assistance, in trying to make this right.

I STILL like Bilstein and their products, but I really think there is a design flaw in the E39 front strut slider bearings. They may be undersized or something.
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Factory M-Sport package with factory installed M-tech bumpers, factory Bluetooth, factory M-Audio 10" dual voice coil subs, Homelink, M5 rear stabilizer bar, Bilstein B14 PSS coil overs, Stop Tech ss brake lines, Akebono Euro Ceramic brake pads, oem Brembo and Zimmerman rotors, Dinan Stage 1 software, Strong Strut front upper stress bar.
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  #125  
Old 07-09-2014, 11:04 AM
Superstar555 Superstar555 is offline
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Location: Canada
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
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Mein Auto: '99 328is
Can you confirm if you have the same symptoms as mine?

Just bought my SECOND SET of PSS last june 2013. ('97 M3) The knocking/clunking sound went away. So after troubleshooting the issue for 3 years I was like: see! I'm not crazy it is the dampers! Now (july 2014) same exact thing is back on the right side even with these new dampers. In my case, the clucking is not due to something loose but to the fact that in it's travel the damper seems to "stick". If I push down the fender it will go down/pop and stay there. It will go back up if I help it up. So the up/down motion seems to be impeded. The clunk comes from the damper sticking up and down fast at low speed going over irregular surfaces. It gets worse (louder) as you drive as it heats up. I always thougth that there's something flawed with this damper. It seems it hates sideload or the angle in which the strut is placed. I'm using camber plates (Vorschlag). But the piston is HUGE compared to other dampers - how can it be affected by side load!!!! Now i beat myself up for buying the same set, I should have got the GC like lots of people do but I really like the how the PSS kit feels on the E36.

So are you PSS also sticking at all if you push down the fender?


PS I tested everything. it's not the sway bar links, control arm or some obscure nut or washer in the top hat or plates that I've heard so many times. Nothing is loose or shifting - it really is the damper that causes that in my case.
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